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Tinnitus in relation to neck/head muscle tension (nih.gov)
107 points by colund on Oct 3, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 37 comments



A couple weeks ago a redditor posted a simple activity that seems to give temporary relief. Doesn't work for me, but a lot of people responded with huge thanks. Maybe it'll work for you. https://np.reddit.com/r/WTF/comments/3l3uri/these_guys_light...

Looking for that, I also found this https://www.reddit.com/r/tinnitus/comments/3d294k/cured_my_o... tldr is: A minority of tinnitus suffers may be helped by the neck massage described in this vid: https://youtu.be/eDSESarTQXk


I am pretty sure none of this helps people who have actually damaged their ears physically (i.e. loud sound). Because then you sustained physical and irreversible damage to your cochlea. It is important to distinguish between this and other tinnitus, like caused by stress, tension, etc.

EDIT: Sorry to make it sound like I didn't read the article and just dumped this onto here. I simply noticed a tendency of people to throw this link at tinnitus sufferers without taking into consideration the aforementioned distinction, so yes, this is slightly off-topic.


The article was about tinnitus caused by muscle tension and the tips related to the causes described in the article.


Awesome to see this on here. I had pulsatile tinnitus for almost two years. I would wear soft headphones to bed so that I could listen to white noise (pink actually) to drown out the sound.

During that time I saw at least five different doctors: general physician, two ENTs, hearing specialist, and a naturopathic physician (I might have even seen more that I'm not remembering). I even got MRIs. Nobody could fix it or tell me what was causing it.

Eventually my wife suggested I get a craniosacral treatment from her yoga instructor -- she saw on the website that it could help with tinnitus. To say that I was dubious would be putting it very mildly. But, I was willing to try just about anything at that point.

Long story short, craniosacral therapy is body work, and it's sort of like chiropracty. The practicioner noticed that my jaw muscles were very tight and did what she could to get them to release.

Over the course of the next week, my tinnitus steadily decreased and has not been back. That was over a year ago.

tl;dr: My specific case of tinnitus was definitely caused by head/neck muscle tension, and was cured. Hope others can find relief as well.


http://skepdic.com/craniosacral.html

> Craniosacral therapy (a.k.a. craniopathy and cranial osteopathy) is a holistic therapy that involves the manipulation of the skull bones (the cranium) and the sacrum to relieve pain and a variety of other ailments, including cancer.

[snip]

> Craniosacral therapists claim to be able to detect a craniosacral "rhythm" in the cranium, sacrum, cerebrospinal fluid and the membranes which envelop the craniosacral system. The balance and flow of this rhythm is considered essential to good health. The rhythm is measured by the therapist's hands. Any needed or effected changes in rhythm are also detected only by the therapist's hands. No instrument is used to measure the rhythm or its changes, hence no systematic objective measurement of healthy versus unhealthy rhythms exists.

[snip]

> Skeptics note that the skull does not consist of moveable parts (unlike the jaw) and brain cells lack actin and myosin (the things in muscle cells that make them move). The only rhythm detectable in the cranium and cerebrospinal fluid is related to the cardiovascular system, but craniosacral therapists deny craniosacral rhythms are due to blood pressure. When tested, therapists have been unable to consistently come up with the same measurements of the alleged craniosacral rhythm. (Dr. Ben Goldacre says there have been five such published studies and "in none of them did the osteopaths give similar answers.")

http://www.quackwatch.com/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/cranial.ht...

https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/alas-poor-craniosacral/

In case anyone else was curious.


My views on craniosacral therapy are complicated. On one hand it seems crazy, and most of it has to be bunk. On the other, I credit the treatment with curing my pulsatile tinnitus.

An interesting note is that the practicioner I saw also had low regard for the field as a whole, and I don't think she would give a blanket recommendation for treatment.

The practicioner I saw had good knowledge of anatomy and was not into the mystical/rhythm side of things. Most of her work was on muscles and getting them to loosen up.


Sounds like a good massage therapist could have done the same thing without the patina of bullshit.

The essence of craniosacral therapy is moving the bones in your cranium. That's the top part of the skull which protects the brain. In adults, those bones are fused, and no longer move; they're still distinct pieces, but the only time you're going to get any flexion up there is if your skull has been fractured.

So any massaging of that region isn't being done to move the bones, it's being done (whether the practitioner knows it or not) entirely for the benefit of the muscles, which is what helped you.


My story parallels yours. I eventually saw a chiropractor (here come the downvotes lol) who performed what's documented here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3081245 --I actually pointed him to that webpage and luckily he'd been trained to perform those treatments. After 4 sessions, my tinnitus and TMJ were barely noticeable and the tension in my neck and ears was gone.


Its kind of pathetic the way some subjects get downvoted on here when they fall outside of standard well understood science. We aren't very open minded about certain fields.


People are rightly downvoting dangerous advice. Chiropractic on the neck is associated with increased risk of stroke.


Gentle warning to people thinking of getting chiropractic on their neck: it's associated with increased risk of stroke.


http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/Naturopath...

> Naturopathy, sometimes referred to as "natural medicine," is a largely pseudoscientific approach said to "assist nature" [1], "support the body's own innate capacity to achieve optimal health" [2], and "facilitate the body's inherent healing mechanisms." [3] Naturopaths assert that diseases are the body's effort to purify itself, and that cures result from increasing the patient's "vital force." They claim to stimulate the body's natural healing processes by ridding it of waste products and "toxins." At first glance, this approach may appear sensible. However, a close look will show that naturopathy's philosophy is simplistic and that its practices are riddled with quackery [4].

[snip]

> Most of the things naturopaths do have not been scientifically substantiated; and some—such as homeopathy—clearly are worthless. In many cases, naturopaths combine sensible dietary advice (based on medically proven strategies) with senseless recommendations for products.

Again, for the curious.

Oh, and a blog from a former naturopath: http://www.naturopathicdiaries.com/

> Naturopathic medicine is not what I was led to believe. I discovered that the profession functions as a system of indoctrination based on discredited ideas about health and medicine, full of anti-science rhetoric with many ineffective and dangerous practices.

http://www.naturopathicdiaries.com/about-me-2/


Yeah, not recommended at all. I was pretty desperate and willing to see just about anybody at the time. I had a friend who went to the ND for diet/allergy, and I figured it was worth a shot.

She took my blood and sent it to a lab for allergy testing. That part was fine. She also prescribed me some ridiculous homeopathy stuff, and overall it was too much pseudoscience to stomach.


I'm sorry you had to waste so much time, MONEY, and pain-free years of your life on this. It drives me crazy how western medicine derides (at best) any medical practitioner who doesn't wear a lab coat. It's like chronic pain isn't worth the time of a doctor unless they can sell you a pill for it, at least until you finally experience otherwise irreparable damage and they can charge you for surgery. I trust my massage therapist with my health more than any doctor I've ever been granted an audience with.

I firmly believe that in the next ~10 years this attitude will change (at least in the US) as payers transition to community outcome-based reimbursement models. It's a lot cheaper to massage someone's SCMs (educated guess, I'd love to know if it was something else) a few times and teach them how to stretch FIRST than it is to send them to go through all that bullshit. Every clinician has the anatomical knowledge required to identify that issue, especially any that specializes in a system located directly at the insertion of this muscle. The fact that not one, but two ENTs missed this just shows how dysfunctional the healthcare industry is.


Got tinnitus about 3 years ago, eventually was able to link it to bad posture. I've been staring at laptop screens for 15 years, and now at cell phones in addition. My head was looking down most of the time, and then I realized it wasn't balanced even when normal walking through the streets. Add a challenging life period (young family) and voilà.

i read a book about pain at some point that contained a good analogy: imagine holding a melon with one hand, arm upright. Now bend the hand forward, and try to hold this for several hours.

Of course we wouldn't be able for more than a few minutes. The analogy of course being the melon as the head and the arm being the spine. It makes you realize how much muscle work is necessary to keep the head bent forward. In my case the tension went from my neck to the jaw, and the jawbone pressing on the region close to the ear. I first needed to relearn walking like a child, with the head being balanced on top of its center of gravity - one can feel a pretty remarkable effect of tension relief on the neck. Then relearn to keep the jaw relaxed. Then adjust work habits, spend more time walking, less staring down at phone screens. Takes a while.

This morning I woke up with no tinnitus at all. It sometimes comes back, but then I know what to do.

Some evidence here: http://de.slideshare.net/mobile/TinnitusResearch/somatosenso...


I've had tinnitus since a bike accident. Hurt my left jaw, and the tension spread through my neck and low back.

Depending how I open my jaw, clench it, or move my neck, the noise will increase. Hearing is fine, been tested.

Fortunately I mostly don't notice it. The only real permanent effect is that earplugs, for example on a flight, actually make noise worse.


> Depending how I open my jaw, clench it, or move my neck, the noise will increase.

This is not exclusive to muscle tension. I have tinnitus caused by damaged hearing from hand grenade explosion and I experience the same.


Interesting, didn't know that. I imagine this is a complicated thing to study because the symptoms can't be seen by others.

In my case a hearing test ruled out any hearing loss.


I have mild tinnitus although it is always there I am not bothered by it unless I read something like this article. It's like breathing I don't notice it until someone says something about it.

But I wouldn't doubt neck tension is an issue since I grind my teeth at night. Even awake and sleeping face down I can hear a sound like water rushing or a fluttering sound and realize it's my jaw muscles. I can't control it but I am sure it would be an issue and may cause or influence my tinnitus.

I tried the reddit neck method but no luck.


Grinding your teeth is pretty bad for your teeth too, not just your muscles. You might want to talk to your dentist about this. They should be able to get you a custom-fit mouth guard to wear at night to try and counter this (though it's not cheap).


Welcome to my life.

Yes several mouth guards/plates over the years at $500 each.

I tried but I have acid reflux too and the combination of the guard and throat spasm makes me feel like I am suffocating.

I need to destress or changed jobs. Or get a girlfriend.


I started sleeping on my stomach for about a month, and one day my tinnitus got way way worse.. It was distracting me from work. I evaluated what I may have changed (diet, exercise, sleep). Eventually noticed my change in sleep habits, and switched back to sleeping on my back (with the help of Benadryl). Needless to say, the severe tinnitus subsided.

I have to imagine there are more things I can do with my posture / neck to further eliminate my tinnitus.


I've seen anecdotal links between neck muscle tension, TMJ (caused by wisdom teeth), tinnitus and eye floaters.


Yep, absolutely. I tried everything, had an MRI done, and the only thing that reduced symptoms was starting regular high intensity workouts (Olympic lifts and such). A year later and I'm nearly symptom free.


I started lifting weights a year ago for no other reason than for keeping in shape.

My tinnitus (I'm a long time sufferer) has also become less severe over the same period.

Until now I had not connected the two - mainly because I've made some other lifestyle changes such as improving my diet and avoiding stressful situations.

So it could be coincidental, but an interesting idea nonetheless.


When's the last time you had your blood pressure checked?


Many years ago. I suspect it's been on the high side for a long time though.


A blood pressure check takes a few minutes.

High blood pressure can cause tinitus, although it's one of the less common causes: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Tinnitus/Pages/Causes.aspx


It may take a few minutes but getting a doctor's appointment takes a much longer - not to mention a lot of determination.

Thanks for the link though, I may just have a try at getting an appointment again before the year is out.


Pharmacies (In the UK) can give blood pressure tests.


So can many of those in the US. Hypertension isn't something to be taken lightly, especially given how easy it is to test for.


Thanks, I should have known that.


I'm not surprised by this. I have TMJ and tinnitus, and the tinnitus gets worse when I bite down.


Interesting to see alternative treatments for tinnitus. The classic one I've heard of is Notch Treatment

Reminded of a JS site that one of my colleagues made: https://tinnitusnotch.com/


Another one: http://audionotch.com

They offer not just white noise, but many other types of discrete noise samples. They also process your own music for you.


Within the past year I began experiencing tinnitus in my right ear, differing between two distinct but nearby high pitch frequencies. Only noticeable in silence, such as going to sleep at night. I've learned to notice it and subsequently ignore, but I know I'm lucky it's not worse. It's only a minor annoyance for me, for others it's much more than that.


I've had tinnitus since I was in grade school. I think eventually you just get so used to it that you don't notice it unless you explicitly look for it.

With that being said, I'm interested in trying out some of the techniques mentioned here. Being able to sleep in (almost) absolute silence sounds blissful.




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